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5 Toxic Habits You Should Break Now for a Better Life

5 Toxic Habits You Should Break Now for a Better Life

Much too often, we hold ourselves back from achieving the best version of ourselves. It can manifest in many ways, but it’s often toxic habits that hold us back from a better life. Sometimes, these habits don’t seem bad on the surface, but we often go overboard, turning what could be considered a positive quality into a toxic habit. Here are 5 toxic habits that you should break now for a better life.

1. Thirsting for approval.

Being liked is a worthy goal. We want people to like us and we make choices every day with this in mind. But too often we go too far and begin to thirst for approval. When you are a good person, you make informed and well-thought out choices, and you understand your personal limitations; being yourself will attract the kind of people you should be around.

Doing things just to get approval can leave you in terrible situations. You may be put in positions where you do things that are against your moral code or even worse, against the law. Whether it’s a boss or co-worker at work who is pushing you to cut corners or a relationship that is pushing you to do things outside your comfort level, thirsting for approval can be very toxic.

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It rears its head in many ways. Often times, you end up being “too nice” and getting taken advantage of by friends or family members. Rather than doing the things that benefit you, you are always trying to win approval. And rarely does it even work. I’ve met many people pleasers who are never truly happy. When they fail at winning approval, they try harder. When they win approval, it’s never enough.

It’s important to do things for others, but it’s vital to do things that make you happy. The best way to win approval is to be yourself. When you thirst for approval, your proverbial cup will run empty. When you do things that fill your cup, you’ll be satisfied and people will notice.

2.  Waiting for life to happen.

We’ve taken the old saying “good things come to those who wait” a step or ten too far. Being patient is important, no doubt. But at some point, patience becomes being lethargic and your life stops being your own. Find things you love and make them happen. Learn what you’re passionate about and do those things. Have fun. When you’re out living life, good things will happen. If you’re sitting on your couch hoping, it’s less likely that they will.

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Be an active participant in your life. The people you spend time with, the things you do, and the career you choose will play a major part in other aspects of your life coming together. Don’t wait on life to happen. When you’re living life to the fullest, you’ll find that good things come your way.

3. Competing & comparing.

Being driven is great. And external motivation can help drive you to become a better person. But too often, it becomes all about keeping up with the Jones’s. When you try to one-up and base your opinion of yourself on what someone else is doing, it becomes toxic. Stop worrying about what others have and start focusing on what you truly want. Buy the things that make you happy and skip the purchases that you don’t want or need. You’ll find you are much happier when you live your life the way you want, rather than comparing it to someone else.

4. Relying too much on others.

Trying to go at it alone can be difficult, if not impossible. We need others. We depend on our families, friends, co-workers, and even strangers on a daily basis. But it’s easy to rely too much on others and lose a piece of ourselves. It’s vital that you control your own destiny and you maintain a level of responsibility for your life. Take help when you need it, but understand that ultimately only you are responsible for your life and your decisions.

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5. Settling.

At some point in everyone’s life, they must make decision and stick to it. These decisions come daily and can be as simple as what to have for breakfast and as challenging as who to marry. On some level, everyone must compromise and understand their limitations.

When I was looking for my first job, I wanted to make a great wage, choose my hours, and work with people I liked. My expectations may have been out of whack with no experience, so I ended up with a great job that didn’t pay nearly as well. I didn’t settle, but I did compromise. I took a look at my options and chose one I felt good about. If none were good, I would have kept looking.

It’s important to remain flexible and truly understand your limitations. But never settle. Whether it’s for a job, a relationship, or just a random decision, it’s important to understand your options and choose one that you are happy with. Settling for a relationship because you don’t want to be lonely or a job that you hate because you need a paycheck is a toxic way to live your life. Be picky and understand you may have to compromise, but never settle.

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Featured photo credit: via flickr.com

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Kyle Robbins

Kyle is the founder of Branding Beard. He writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 4, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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